Making today better than yesterday and tomorrow better than today with Kaizen

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I recently wrote a blog post on the sister blog – Dream Big, Live Simple – about working each day to bring upon small, constant improvements and working towards a goal. Something that I often teach to my clients is how to overcome that initial overwhelming feeling when starting off…knowing that you have a such a long way to go can make it easy to just give up. But, I always encourage them to take small action on their plan each and every day, and to celebrate every little success along the way.

When you plan to complete some specific steps each day and succeed – every day feels like a success! You don’t have to wait until the you finally get to your final goal to pat yourself on the back and enjoy the feeling of pride in a job well done. Our goals shift and evolve as we go, and you’ll see that oftentimes the end point continues to change as you get closer. You start to dream even bigger and want to do more. But if that is the case – when do you get to celebrate?

Taking even one step a day will get you there eventually. Your dreams will have to manifest themselves!

Surely you can speed that up by taking major action and by acting with a sense of urgency–and that should be encouraged–but never should a single day go by that you are not doing SOMETHING. A large goal is much more attainable when broken up into a long string of tiny changes and actions.

So, after writing about this and talking about it many times, I came across an article about the Japanese business principle of Kaizen and realized it is exactly what I was already teaching! Here’s the definition:

Kaizen – the philosophy of continual improvement, that every process can and should be continually evaluated and improved in terms of time required, resources used, resultant quality, and other aspects relevant to the process. When applied to the workplace, Kaizen means continuing improvement involving everyone – managers and workers alike. Kaizen is not limited to manufacturing systems only. It also means continuing improvement in personal life, home life, social life, and working life.

Now, while it was originally developed as a business practice in Japan, the philosophy is clear and can be applied anywhere where you want to make things better. The reason this works so well is because you:

  • Focus on small, incremental changes: By perfecting small parts of the process, you are able to focus more clearly on your intention to really perfect a step and make it a habit before moving on. This is much more effective than trying to spread your focus all over and burning out in the process.
  • See steady improvement: With this methodology, you are making improvements all the time. The results can be seen in the form of a steady increase in productivity.
  • Morale and motivation remains high: Sine you are not changing everything at once, the actions you take are much more manageable. You are able to constantly improve without it being too overwhelming. This gets you past the trap of being very motivated in the beginning and then giving up when you can’t take the pressure anymore. Goals are always changing, which keeps you interested. Plus, you build upon previous successes which makes each step easier to accomplish!

There is a lot more to this, and it warrants some exploration into how to apply this philosophy to the different life areas, but even just getting an understanding of the principle can be enough to shift your thinking.

Start with a small change TODAY! How will you make today better than yesterday and tomorrow better than today?

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